This is a big question a lot of CEOs face when growing their company. As a business owner or leader, deciding to outsource marketing is probably something you need an answer to right now. Many companies had to make difficult, yet necessary staff cuts as a result of COVID-19. Now that we are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel, CEOs need to plan for what’s next.
Outsourced marketing solutions can be a great option for companies post-COVID-19 as they put the pieces of their organization back together. It’s cost-effective, flexible, and a fresh perspective that is needed right now. Let’s review reasons you might and might not outsource marketing.
Want to Outsource Marketing? Know the Basics.
When you outsource marketing, you hire a firm or agency to take on all or some of your marketing efforts. This is not as clear a step as say, outsourcing your manufacturing, which is a well-defined and bounded function. If you outsource your manufacturing, it’s to spec. You’re paying another company to make and deliver 10,000 T-shirts, for example. Marketing, on the other hand, is a bigger function spanning the company and with a less tangible finished product.
Marketing could include customer experience, website design, strategy, branding, content creation and more. That’s the great thing about outsourced marketing solutions – they fit what you need, when you need it.
What marketing functions do I need?
The first question to ask yourself is, what marketing functions does my company need? If you don’t know, well then you might have your answer right there. A good marketing consulting firm will start by identifying what you need – and most likely be able to execute on that.
We know that most B2B organizations rely on smaller marketing teams, which are even smaller right now. However, the skill sets needed for attaining growth through marketing are wide and growing rapidly with technology. A well-stacked marketing team should be able to move between strategy, planning, execution, and measurement with ease. This includes the abilities to:
- Set a strategy for marketing and build marketing plans
- Create and optimize a customer-centric journey for measurable sales outcomes
- Fill every stage of the funnel – awareness, intent, consideration, decision, retention
- Run events, trade show presence, and speaking engagements
- Design and write ads, landing pages, blogs, and brochures
- Engage customers though digital, social and on-site content
- Improve efficiencies through marketing automation
- Optimize every tactic based on metrics and reporting
Consider which skills you need and how much of those skills are needed. This can help you determine if it makes sense to fill gaps with an in-house hire or outsource – which leads us into considering the costs.
Making the Most Cost-Effective Choice for Your Company
When you outsource marketing, it is typically more cost effective than hiring in-house. With outsourcing, you can cover more skill sets with a monthly retainer than you can with a monthly salary. For example, a company who only sends a few emails, writes a few case studies and doesn’t constantly update their website might not need a full-time email specialist, copywriter and web developer. By outsourcing marketing, you only pay for what you need.
On the other hand, if you have a well-rounded team and only need to fill a few gaps, hiring in-house may be the way to go. A full-time employee has the benefit of being fully tapped into the company culture, any changes in the product or direction, and being beholden to the brand.
When doing a cost analysis, consider all costs of hiring a full-time employee, not just the salary. The new employee needs a computer, office space, insurance and more. Compared to paying for completed work from your marketing partner with the option to scale as needed.
You may also want to weigh risks in this cost equation. Many business owners see less financial risk and more flexibility in outsourcing marketing. The world still needs to recover from this pandemic and there are fears of the novel coronavirus coming back in the fall. Outsourcing could be a good solution that mitigates risk and gives you flexibility in the future. (Not that we recommend cutting marketing during a crisis.)
Can You Respond Quickly and Strategically to Change?
The world has come to a screeching halt, marketing plans have imploded, and the path forward is as overgrown as a jungle in monsoon season. New opportunities and markets have opened up for businesses. At the same time, consumer habits, priorities, and business operations have changed quickly. Has your team uncovered these new opportunities and the need to pivot away from dying tactics?
One of the hardest skills to find in marketing is a strategic leader. If you have one, keep them. Lean into them to drive the marketing function the right direction to become a profit-generating department. With them at the helm, they will not sink into what you’ve always done as a business, and they won’t let these new opportunities pass them by.
However, if your marketing department is lacking a strategic visionary, then now is when you need one most. Augmenting how you’re structuring your marketing department by bringing in a strategic firm can help you identify new opportunities and directions that have been created. They are always thinking about what’s next, how to optimize, prioritize and strategize. They come with a fresh unbiased perspective, are dedicated to your success and have the experience to get things done.
How Were Your Results Before the Crisis?
Often in-house marketing departments can get caught up in their own inertia. Over time, the team and marketing initiatives get less effective. Your team goes from bright-eyed and full of ideas, to task-driven and just trying to get the next piece of content out.
Marketers know that there is always more that could be done, but it’s easy to stay with the status quo. It’s hard to stick out your neck to try something new when you know what’s worked in the past. Marketers also struggle with being so far in the weeds and wearing so many hats, that they can’t see the big picture.
Now more than ever, what worked before isn’t going to work as well in the future. Companies across industries are seeing new opportunities not just from the coronavirus epidemic, but also from changes from the last few years. Your marketing plan should already include a lot of digital, automation, and tactics throughout the funnel.
If your company hasn’t made some major strategic changes recently and your marketing isn’t moving into the digital age, then bringing in strategic help is the right move. An outsourced marketing team comes with new ideas, experience, major strategy chops and a collective power to turn the ship and fill the sails.
Choosing the Right Partner
If outsource marketing sounds like the best option for you right now, be sure to choose a partner that’s right for you. You need a partner who can position your company for strategic growth, while also rolling up their sleeves to get it done. You want to find a company who works as if they are part of your company – with the same passion that you’d expect from employees.
Every company is different and experiencing this pandemic in a different way. Those who take change of their future will come out of this stronger than before.
Want to learn more about the ins and outs of creating a marketing plan for growth? Then get your free copy of 5 Benefits of Creating a Strategic Marketing Plan.